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Five bronze plaques stolen from Bexleyheath war memorial

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 October 2010 | UPDATED: 09:30 21 October 2010

Bexleyheath War Memorial

Bexleyheath War Memorial

Archant

Five bronze plaques bearing the names of soldiers, sailors and airmen who died in both World Wars have been stolen from a war memorial.

Bexleyheath War Memorial

Council staff now fear they will not be able to replace the plaques in Oaklands Road, Bexleyheath, in time for the Remembrance Sunday service which is to take place on November 14.

Police are now investigating the theft which was discovered last Tuesday but the thieves had still not been traced.

Chairman of the Bexleyheath and Welling branch of the Royal British Legion, Paul Grest, 35, said: “It makes me angry that some people do not have respect for people who fought for the country.

“It taints the memories of the people who have fought and died for this country and their families who are still alive and who remember them. We are supposed to be having a service at the memorial on Remembrance Day on November 14.

Chairman of Bexleyheath and Welling branch of the Royal British Legion Paul Grest

“The missing plaques will shock and upset people.”

Both Mr Grest’s father and grandfather served in the Royal Air Force, with the latter fighting for the Allies against the Japanese in Burma, in the campaign which started in 1942 and drew to a close in 1945.

Bexley council’s leader Teresa O’Neill said: “This is a callous crime. To target a memorial that pays tribute to people from this borough who gave their lives fighting for this country is despicable behaviour.

“It shows total disrespect for those who died, for their colleagues and relatives who gather at the memorial to remember them and for today’s serving armed forces.”

Bexleyheath War Memorial

She has asked all residents to contact the council’s cemeteries office on 020 8303 7777, open between 9am and 5pm, if they see anyone working on the borough’s war memorials, even if they look like bona fide workmen. Outside office hours, Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.

A spokesperson for the council added: “The London Borough of Bexley cemeteries’ team will be replacing the bronze plaques with bronze-coloured granite to prevent the plaques being targeted by thieves in the future.

“Because of the specialist nature of the work involved, it may not be possible to replace the plaques before Remembrance Sunday but every effort is being made to do so.”

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